Phoenix City Council To Approve Labor Group Agreement

By  Al Macias
February 19, 2014

The Phoenix City Council is set to approve an agreement on Wednesday with two labor groups that will allow city employees to continue doing some union work while on the city’s clock. This comes after a court decision last month said the practice violated the state constitution and needed to be modified. 

The Goldwater Institute sued the city three years ago over “release time.” Under the practice the city paid some police officers and other city employees while they conducted union business. The suit claimed this was a violation of the Arizona Constitution’s gifting clause which says that the public should benefit from any public money the government spends.

The court ruled the practice served no public benefit and city officials had no control over how union members were spending their time.

In the ruling, the court said the city and union would have to develop specific terms and conditions for approval of release time. The ruling also said the practice would be lawful if the unions reimbursed the city for release time that does not directly benefit the city.

The council is set to vote on agreements with a labor group that represents rank and file police officers and another group representing other city workers. The city is negotiating with five other employee groups to modify their labor agreements.